Zaanse Schans is one of those towns that are just a perfect Dutch postcard: think of Windmills, wooden houses and green grass. With good reason the Zaanse Schans windmills are one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Netherlands.
Two of my friends from Mexico came to visit and a trip to see the Dutch windmills was part of their wish list, so we made it happen. I must confess that I had never taken the time to visit them. I guess that once you live here and you see windmills all year long it doesn’t seem that interesting anymore. But I can tell you now that a trip to Zaanse Schans is totally worth it!
The village is very small so you don’t need a lot of time to explore it, neither a tour guide is needed. However, if you want to do more than just sightseeing I would recommend to take a guided tour so you can learn more about this beautiful place filled with history. We wanted to take it very easy and go on our own pace so we went solo. We had a lovely afternoon, just walking around, visiting the museums and workshops and taking tons of pictures of course. It would’ve been a lot better paired with sunshine but we weren’t so lucky, it was a very cloudy day. But hey, that’s the usual climate after all so we had a full on Dutch day.
How to get there?
You can get there by car, public transport or by taking a guided tour. For us, the train was the best option and I was surprised by how easy it is to reach the village. We took the train from Sloterdijk station towards Zaandijk Zaanse Schans and in less than 15 min we were there. If you are leaving from Amsterdam Central Station, it will take you about 35 min. You can plan your trip here and buy the tickets at the station.
Once you arrive at the Zaanse Schans train station, you need to walk about 10 min, just follow the windmills!
What to do in Zaanse Schans?
Just walking around in the village admiring the iconic green wooden houses and the windmills in the distance is already great fun but there are a few things you shouldn’t miss.
- Visit De Zaanse Schans Clog Workshop
This small museum / workshop / gift shop is free of admission. You can see the “klompen-makers” in action.
- Visit the first Albert Heijn store ever!
Albert Heijn is one of the biggest supermarkets in the Netherlands. Zaanse Schans is home of the very first Albert Heijn grocery store in the Netherlands. It is a tiny building that still conserves the original furniture and fixtures from 1887.
- Go inside a windmill
Most of the windmills are open to the public from April to October. By paying a small fee you can see the windmills working; oil, flour, spices and pigments are still being milled here. Seeing the construction of the windmills from the inside and the way they work is very impressive.
- Visit the cheese shop
All kinds of local cheeses you can think of, jams and local chocolate. The best part, you can taste them all!
- Visit the local shops.
On our way back to the station we came across a lovely shop, Smells like chocolate where you can get a cup of hot chocolate made with chocolate from the region, home made brownies and many other locally produced products.
Lastly, on your way back to Amsterdam, if you got the time make a stop over at Zaandam to snap a pic of the Stacked House Hotel in Zaandam, just outside of the train station. This funky facade is worth the extra stop.